A Conservative on How His Party Has Changed Since 2016
The 2024 Republican presidential primary is officially underway, and Donald Trump is dominating the field. But this is a very different contest than it was in 2016. Back then, the Republican Party was the party of foreign policy interventionism, free trade and cutting entitlements, and Trump was the insurgent outsider unafraid to buck the consensus. Today, Trump and his views have become the consensus.
The primary, then, raises some important questions: How has Donald Trump changed the Republican Party over the past eight years? Is Trumpism an actual set of policy views or just a political aesthetic? And if Trump does become the nominee again, where does the party go from here?
Ben Domenech is a longtime conservative writer who served as a speechwriter in George W. Bush’s administration and co-founded several right-leaning outlets, including RedState and The Federalist. He’s currently a Fox News contributor, an editor at large at The Spectator and the author of the newsletter The Transom. From these different perches, he has closely traced the various ways the Republican Party has and, crucially, has not changed over the past decade.
This conversation explores whether Donald Trump really did break open a G.O.P. policy consensus in 2016, the legacy of what Domenech calls “boomer Republicanism,” how to reconcile Trump’s continued dominance with his surprisingly poor electoral record, the rise of “Barstool conservatism” and other new cultural strands on the right, whether conservatives actually want “National Review conservatism policy” with a “Breitbart conservatism attitude,” what Domenech thinks a G.O.P. candidate would need to do to outperform Trump and more.
This episode contains strong language.
This episode was hosted by Jane Coaston, a staff writer for Times Opinion. Previously, she hosted “The Argument,” a New York Times Opinion podcast. Before that she was the senior politics reporter at Vox, with a focus on conservatism and the G.O.P.
The War on the West by Douglas Murray
The Mandibles by Lionel Shriver
Running the Light by Sam Tallent
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This episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” was produced by Emefa Agawu. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris, with Mary Marge Locker and Kate Sinclair. Our senior engineer is Jeff Geld. Our senior editor is Rogé Karma. The show’s production team also includes Rollin Hu and Kristin Lin. Original music by Isaac Jones. Audience strategy by Kristina Samulewski and Shannon Busta. The executive producer of New York Times Opinion Audio is Annie-Rose Strasser. Special thanks to Sonia Herrero.